Cause of fire that triggered West, Texas, blast ruled undetermined

by Reuters
Thursday, 16 May 2013 22:37 GMT

(Updates with cause of fire being ruled undetermined, details on possible causes) By Lisa Maria Garza WEST, Texas, May 16 (Reuters) - The cause of a fire that triggered a massive explosion at a West, Texas fertilizer plant has been ruled undetermined, and investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the fire was set intentionally, authorities said on Thursday. Robert Champion, a special agent in charge at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said that while authorities could not rule out arson, they also could not eliminate the plant's electrical systems and a golf cart at the plant as potential causes. The West Fertilizer Co facility, which supplied fertilizer to area farmers, exploded on April 17 about 20 minutes after a fire was reported at the plant. The blast killed 14 people and badly damaged a residential area including an apartment building, nursing home and school. An investigation into the fire is continuing, State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy said. Most of the 14 dead were firefighters and paramedics who responded to the initial fire. Some 200 people were injured. The plant stored anhydrous ammonia, a liquid fertilizer, as well as ammonium nitrate, a dry fertilizer that can ignite in certain conditions. Ammonium nitrate was an ingredient in the device used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. (Writing by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Cynthia Osterman)

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